Today might have marked the last Space Shuttle launch, but it is not the end of people going into space. In fact, technologist, angel investor, and space privatization advocate Esther Dyson says it’s only “the end of the beginning” and that private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Xcor will fill in the gap.
I spoke with Dyson yesterday at our TCTV studios in New York City (when it was still unclear if a weather delay would prevent a launch). You can watch the video above.
Dyson has a lifelong love for space. Her father, the physicist Freeman Dyson, led a project at Los Alamos in the late-1950s to design a nuclear-powered spacecraft called the Orion Project. Today, she is an investor in Xcor and Space Adventures, as well as the more earthly Airship Ventures and Icon Aircarft. She recently completed six months cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia and is ready to go to space if she can catch a ride.
Of course we’ve seen space startups come and go before. But Dyson points out that this generation of startup entrepreneurs like Bezos, Musk, and Richard Branson are a lot richer, a lot more patient, and that now there is actually a need for them. “This time it’s different because these guys are credible,” she argues, “and they started out with billions, not millions.”
On Musk’s SpaceX rocket, she predicts, “it will be human-rated in a few years.” Until then, it’s Russian rockets that will take people to the Space Station. (Who was it who won the space race again?)
Esther Dyson is an active investor in a variety of start-ups, focusing on technology. Her portfolio of private space and air travel investments includes XCOR Aerospace, Space Adventures/Zero G, Icon Aircraft, Coastal Aviation Software and Airship Ventures. She has flown weightless on Zero-G four times, but hopes to go up again soon. She is also the organizer of Flight School, an executive workshop for start-ups in air and space. Itâ€™s in hiatus for 2008, but will resume in 2009. On the...
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is a space-transportation startup company founded by Elon Musk. It is developing the partially reusable launch vehicles Falcon 1 and Falcon 9. Originally based in El Segundo, SpaceX now operates out of Hawthorne, California, USA. SpaceX was founded in June 2002 by Musk who had invested $100 million of his own money in the company as of March 2006. In January 2005, SpaceX bought a 10% stake in Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. SpaceX had 160 employees...
Founded in 1999, XCOR Aerospace is a small, privately-held California corporation. Their headquarters and development facilities are located at the Mojave Spaceport and Civilian Aerospace Test Center in Mojave, California. XCOR engages in research, development, and production of reusable rocket-powered, horizontal launch vehicles for suborbital, and ultimately, orbital travel.